Any effort to replace single-use plastic at home revolves around using paper and cotton material. However, the commercial production of paper is a rigorous process and consumes huge amounts of natural resources.
Thousands of trees are cut every year as a raw material for paper production, along with the use of numerous toxic chemicals to make the pulp. These chemicals enhance the paper quality but produce harmful by-products like hydrogen peroxide and sodium hydrosulfite. This is topped off with transportation costs and harmful residual waste like sludge. These environmental costs of mass-producing paper can be reduced over time eliminated by making handmade paper at an individual level.
Making handmade paper at home can be a fun activity for children. The art of making handmade paper is a scientific process, which takes years for a person to master at home. However, it is possible to ace this scientific technique of paper-making through constant practice.
- Recyclable unwaxed paper, Old newspaper, used copies
- Blender or mortar grinder
- Few liters of tap water
- Rectangular container (preferably bigger than the size of the frame chosen)
- MDF wooden board; and sponge or towel
- Wooden frame
- Screens to cover the frame made of nylon or fiberglass or charcoal or mixed materials
- Hard plastic screen fitting to the internal frame
- Few teaspoons of liquid bleach or vinegar;
- Anything you want to add to make your paper sheet unique like small leaves, essential oil and others;
- Few teaspoons of starch; and
- Hairdryer or microwave
Make Handmade Paper at Home – A DIY Guide
1Collect recyclable papers
Gather used paper (newspaper and magazines). These should be not glossy and not shiny. Clean the collected papers carefully. For every two pieces of grey paper like newspaper or magazine, add in one piece of white paper like notebook paper and printed sheet.
2Tear the paper
Tear the paper into small pieces (about a few cm each). Having smaller pieces will allow production of finer pulp and consequently, better results.
3Soak the paper strips in water
Soak the paper strips in water for about 10 minutes and wait until they get soggy. Use warm water to fasten this process. In case you wish to add perfume to the handmade paper, then drop about 3 to 5 drops of suitable essential oil. You can also pitch in flower petals. For a finer quality of paper, add two tablespoons of vinegar.
4Mash the soaked paper
Mash the soaked paper into fine slurry or pulp. For this, you can use a mixer grin or blender. In case of mixer-grinder, add equal parts of soaked paper and water. In case of a blender, continue mashing until you reach a uniformly textured paper pulp.
5 Add pulp to the container
Add pulp to the container and mix the pulp thoroughly by stirring continuously for a few minutes. The amount of pulp added should be carefully added according to the intended thickness of sheet. Add few drops of bleach to avoid the paper from being too-absorbent, which could result in messy spreading of the ink used on it.
6Building the deckle/pulp catcher:
Building the pulp catcher: This is a frame within which you can hold your pulp to the shape of paper you need. It is a thick screen with little holes placed between a wooden frame (called deckle) and a hard-plastic screen. Nail the thick screen to one side of the frame. You can insert the hard plastic screen after placing the pulp into the frame. This will drain out the water and make even the paper texture. Immerse the frame into the mixture prepared in Step 6 and leave it for half a minute. Uniformly fill the frame with pulp. Once the surface is levelled, rinse away the excess water.
7Soak excess water
Soak excess water from the frame by gently placing the plastic sheet or a thick towel over the frame. Let the pulp stay in the frame till the point it dries into a solid form. Use an ironing press or hot-air blower for speeding up the process.
8Dry the paper
Let the paper dry for a few days. Now, your handmade paper is ready! But if you think this process of preparing handmade paper at home is too tedious, then you can try to re-use waste paper in different ways!